This passage continues the thought of what God has done for us in Christ and what the Grace of God has brought to the life of the believer. For me, the practical outcome of this passage (and really all of what we have studied so far in Ephesians) is learning to respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ. To remind myself daily of its truth and live a life that flows from it. To not only rely on the message for my eternity, but to be transformed by it day by day. Believers need to understand, meditate on, embrace, and live out the reality of this gospel – what God has done for us and who we are in Christ.
God has raised us from the dead and enthroned us with Christ in heaven.
This is a heavenly picture, but though this contains a future fulfillment our status is determined now. Not only does God forgive me of my sin, I am brought together with Christ. I am spiritually united to Him in his heavenly glory.
Practically, this means that for the believer, even though we see remaining evidences of our sin nature and struggles in this life our spiritual reality is already settled. Our union with Christ it is not only a future hope, but a present reality. We who were dead, are now alive. We who were walking in disobedience and under the influence of the world and the devil, are now raised to new life in Christ. We who were under God’s wrath deserving of an eternity in the torments of hell, are now from it. We who were sons of disobedience are now united with Him in His resurrection glory.
The Bible gives us a bleak and hopeless picture of our life under the wrath of God. We are justly condemned and awaiting our sentence to be carried out. Yet from that hopeless condition, dead in our sins, God has made us alive and saved us by His grace. We were children of wrath and deserving of an eternity in the torments of hell, but God, instead of pouring out wrath, will spend eternity showing the immeasurable riches of his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Brothers and sisters, this is good news!
Salvation is by Grace Alone through Faith Alone
After such a full picture of all that God has done for us in Christ, Paul pauses here in verses 8-10 to summarize and elaborate, to make sure that we understand how we have been saved, the nature of that salvation, and the result of that salvation in our lives.
This is classic doctrine that clarifies that salvation is wholly from God. We are not saved by our own effort, our own striving, our adherence to religious acts, our moral righteousness, or our personal holiness. We are not saved because we are “basically a good person”, because our Good outweighs our bad, or because none of our sins are all that serious. We are saved wholly and only by God’s grace. God does not give us what we deserve, instead he gives us all the blessings we’ve read about in chapters 1 and 2.
I heard the phrase “get saved” so much as a kid, I didn’t really understand that there was something we were getting saved from – that He has saved us from spiritual death that he has saved us from the wrath of God and His righteous eternal judgment of our sin. Instead of God’s judgment, we’ve been given grace – unmerited favor – i.e., you don’t deserve it, but God gives it to you anyway. Salvation is by grace and by grace alone.
Salvation is a gift and cannot be earned.
And if you have been saved – HOW did it happen? Because Grace is grace – it is a gift received by faith.
Our sin against God, if you will, is a kind of spiritual adultery. While God, because He is God our Creator, deserves our love, affection, loyalty, worship – because God has given us life and created us in such a way that our greatest joy is found in Him alone – our sin is a violation of that. Apart from Christ, we seek our own way and look to find joy somewhere else. Not only do we fail, but we betray the very one to whom we should be wholly committed.
I say that to reinforce that God’s grace in salvation is not given out to people who deserve it. By its very nature grace is given to those who do not deserve it.
This “gift of God” that is not of ourselves refers not just to GRACE but to the entire process of salvation. God must bring us back from death to life. Not only can no amount of good works make up for our sin so that Grace is required, we are wholly incapable of producing good works apart from the work of God.
That’s why faith cannot be seen as a work – because even faith itself is part of God’s saving work. Dead people cannot respond on their own. Salvation is the gift of God from start to finish.
Next time I’m tempted to look down on an unbeliever or have a little pride in my heart because I have believed in Christ and “they” have rejected Him I’d better stop and remember where I’d be apart from God’s intervening work in my life. My salvation is a gift from God.
Remember finally, you are the product of God’s grace and He has saved you for a purpose.
If one error is to try to be right with God through our works, the opposite error, equally dangerous, is to suppose that we can be saved without any connection to works.
That’s why the reformers made it clear — in rejecting the false works-based doctrine of their era, they were not rejecting works. Martin Luther said “It’s not against works that we contend, it’s against trust in works that we contend.” John Calvin phrases it very similarly, “It is faith alone that justifies, but faith that justifies can never be alone.” In the modern era, Dallas Willard put it succinctly: “Grace is not opposed to effort, it’s opposed to earning.”
Works are the outcome of a life changed by God – the result of true saving faith.We are his “workmanship.” FF Bruce describes it this way: “we are God’s MASTERPIECE, his work of art.”
We are saved not by but for good works. And your good works result in glory for God because your good works are the result of God’s grace in your life. We were created for Good works – they are the RESULT of God’s Grace in our lives. Good works do not make up for the sins of the past, nor do they EARN us salvation – they are just compelling evidence of the GRACE of God in our life and point to God’s glorious work of salvation!!!
Let us never grow weary of reminding ourselves of the gospel – meditating on the gift of God that is our salvation. Let us not let our love grow cold in the light of His marvelous grace toward us. Grace is an invitation to worship and find our joy in Him.
Go back and review all that Paul has covered so far in Ephesians. We’ve gotten a full picture of the Grace of God and power of the Gospel in our lives in being born again. I am becoming more and more convinced that discipleship is really all about growing deeper in our understanding and response to this gospel. As we grow in our understanding of all that God has done for us in Christ, we are freed to proclaim the gospel of transformation and live transformed lives – to live a for His glory and find our joy in Him alone.